Repsol to run plants full while Cartagena shut

Spanish oil firm Repsol (REP.MC), which has said it planned to halt its Cartagena plant until margins improved, will run its other refineries at full tilt a senior official said on Thursday.

Margins in Northwest Europe and the Mediterranean were weaker than elsewhere in the world in March and simple plants, with higher yield of heavy fuel oils, made losses for the month as economic recession has cut European oil demand more sharply than many other areas of the world, Reuters data showed.

On Wednesday, Repsol said it would halt refining indefinitely at its 100,000 barrels per day Cartagena plant in Spain in the next few days.

Repsol has to protect its refining margins by shutting Cartagena. But the loss of more profitable light products such as diesel from there could be compensated by running other more modern, complex plants, Pedro Fernandez Frail, executive director of downstream, said in a statement on Thursday.

"The lack of production from Cartagena will be compensated by running the other facilities at full load, meaning there will be no supply problems for the market," Frail said.

Cartagena is the smallest of Repsol's five refineries in Spain, which have combined capacity to process about 740,000 barrels crude oil per day. The other plants are more complex and can turn out more profitable, lighter products.

Frail also reiterated that Repsol would press ahead with a 3.2 billion euro ($4.23 billion) plan to boost production of light products at Cartagena.

[Source: Reuters, Madrid, 16Apr09]

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